Tom Pidcock delivered a masterclass in race management and showed why he is one of the best mountain bike racers around, as he powered to victory in the opening round of the UCI XCC World Cup. The 2023 UCI Mountain Bike season began in a damp and rainy Nové Město in the Czech Republic with the Olympic gold medallist officially riding the newly unveiled Pinarello Dogma XC mountain bike, having ridden the prototype version of the unreleased Pinarello MTB, along with his teammate World Champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot in the last few weeks.
Pidcock had only decided to race a few hours before the race started after Ondrej Cink had dropped out, freeing up a place for Pidcock who was placed at the back of the pack for the fast and furious cross-country mountain bike racing format. Pidcock remained around the back of the pack for the majority of the race and with just two laps remaining, the Briton was still 22nd and he never looked like he was going to threaten his rivals at the front. However, Pidcock wouldn't allow himself to be denied the win and out of nowhere, he appeared, having saved his best 'til last. The Ineos grenadier rider was fired up as he crossed the line with an emphatic celebration, New Zealander, Samuel Gaze would have to settle for second place as he tried but couldn't match Pidcock in the sprint, with German, Luca Schwartzbauer rounding out the podium.
Pidcock described his win after the podium presentations, "I only found out I was racing at 3pm having already done a training run this morning, I’ve been second here in the short track before so it’s nice to win one. I wasn’t stressed at the start because, you know, I’d rather start a bit further behind, give myself a bit of space. I also didn’t want to crash today. I have crashed on short track before and it can ruin the weekend. So yeah, just trying to stay out of trouble."
The women’s race had a stacked field of big names on the start line including last year’s winner Jolanda Neff, the defending overall series champion Alessandra Keller, reigning World Champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot and former World Champions Kate Courtney and Evie Richards.
As the rain fell for the women it was the perfect start for to the season for Austria's Laura Stigger. The Specialized Factory Racing rider would cross the finish line first after some intense racing at the first Elite UCI Mountain Bike World Series XCC of the year. The other podium places would be taken by Alessandra Keller from Switzerland just one second ahead of her compatriot Sina Frei.
After crossing the line, Laura Stigger spoke about her win, "I didn’t expect this at all. It turned out perfectly. It’s so hard though, I had to fight for every spot. At the right point, I was in the right spot. I’m really happy to have such great support all around me, and thanks to all of them. It’s great to go away with this jersey, I’m so proud to do this with the Specialized team as well as in front of my family and friends. It’s just great."
The racing at Nové Město continues over the weekend, and you can watch Tom Pidcock in the Elite Men's XCO race along with the Elite Women tomorrow Live on GCN+, Eurosport, and Discovery+ from 10am. With the U23 XCO races today from 1pm on the same providers.